By Andy Sims, PA
Graham Potter congratulated Tomas Soucek for a “good save” after Chelsea were denied what appeared to be a clear penalty for handball at the end of the 1-1 draw at West Ham.
The Blues were chasing a much-needed win to kickstart their bid to get back up towards the top four when Conor Gallagher hit a low shot goalwards.
Hammers midfielder Soucek was falling to his left and diverted the ball off-target with his left hand.
But despite a VAR check, no penalty was given to leave Chelsea, now with just one win in seven since the turn of the year, frustrated again.
😉 https://t.co/jw5mF7qeFV pic.twitter.com/MnnhB44oeA
— West Ham United (@WestHam) February 11, 2023
“I thought it was a good save,” smiled Blues boss Potter. “You need your goalkeeper, sometimes, to get you the points.
“It hasn’t been given so there’s nothing for me to say. I’ve only seen it briefly. It looks like one of those ones that if it had been given I don’t think it would have been overturned. But it hasn’t been given, so I don’t know.
“It looks like a handball to me. I didn’t know Tomas could get down that easily and save like that. But it’s not for me to say about VAR. Sometimes they go for you and sometimes they don’t, you just have to accept that.”
West Ham could be forgiven for feeling justice was done having been denied an equaliser in the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge last year, with referees’ chiefs later admitting Maxwel Cornet’s strike should have stood.
A first goal in @ChelseaFC colours for Joao Felix ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/v0B3cAjkYH
— Premier League (@premierleague) February 11, 2023
Potter fielded five of his expensively-acquired January recruits and two of them combined for the opening goal, Joao Felix poking in a cross from £106million midfielder Enzo Fernandez.
Felix and Kai Havertz had goals disallowed for offside before West Ham clawed their way back into the match.
Vladimir Coufal’s cross was headed on by Jarrod Bowen and finished off at the far post by Chelsea old boy Emerson Palmieri.
In the second half Soucek had a goal disallowed for an offside against Declan Rice, before his controversial intervention at the other end.
“I haven’t seen it,” was David Moyes’ rather brusque response to the incident, while – in an interview shown on the club’s Twitter account – Soucek said with a smile: “My father was a goalkeeper.”
Hammers boss Moyes lost Brazil midfielder Lucas Paqueta to what could be a recurrence of a shoulder injury he suffered earlier in the season, and defender Nayef Aguerd also limped off.
“Losing Paqueta was a blow but we don’t know the answer yet,” added Moyes. “I haven’t asked the medical team but obviously, it’s a shoulder injury. I don’t know if he’s popped his shoulder or if it’s just the way it feels.
“Aguerd had a bit of a groin issue. The big thing for us is that Declan Rice played with a virus today and you can probably see that he was the way he was because of a virus and it had a big effect on us.”